Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Last Day is the Longest

Well, the sun set at 10:07 tonight and the daylight has finally faded. My bag is packed and Peter and I are killing the bottle of wine we've been carrying. Today was not quite as long as yesterday, but we filled it full. 

It was raining when we first woke up, so we turned over and got some more sleep. We got on the road heading south to the Cliffs of Moher shortly after 10. The rain had stopped, but the clouds were low as we drove around Galway Bay. We followed the Wild Atlantic Way out to the coast. Stone walls snaked across the fields reminding us of New England. There are even more rocks here than in our own back yard. We made our first acquaintance with The Burren.
This area of Ireland is geologically complex. The explanations make me want to sign up for a geology course. The land is covered by limestone rock, denuded of all soil and vegetation. Fields and hills are bare rock with cracks and fissures where moss and tiny flowers cling to life. Underground the water wears caves within the rock. We didn't have time to really explore this fascinating geology, but the evidence was everywhere.

We stopped for tea in the small town of Doolin. The owner was warm and welcoming, and the cream tea was the best I've had the whole trip. 

And then we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. Although it was Wednesday and the fog had rolled in, there were over twenty tour busses and hundreds of cars in the parking lot. Had the sun been shining it would have been spectacular. In the fog it was spooky and atmospheric. There was a small group holding a destination wedding accompanied by an Irish harp. 

 But the most amazing and fascinating element was the thousands of birds swooping and roosting in the cliff face. It was frustrating because my binoculars were good enough to see the birds, they were not powerful enough for good identification.  I know we saw guillemots and black backed gulls, but I couldna't be sure of seeing the puffins, of which there are over 1000 in residence. The sheer number of birds was amazing

Finally we headed back to Galway.  As we drove away from the coast the sky cleared, as often happens in Maine.

We drove through great mountains of the Burren as we came back to the coast of Galway Bay.
The sun came out as we came toward the town of Kinvara.
We took that as an omen and decided to stop for dinner. We found an elegant hotel and bar where we had our final Guinness and cider. The bar was full of families and cute Irish kids. 

We headed into the city of Galway just to see it because our hotel is on the outskirts. We found parking next to the cathedral which is closed. As we started to walk to the town center we spotted some salmon fisherman wading in the River Corrib. We stopped to watch as several serious anglers fished in the swift currents below a small dam. A couple of them came back with fresh Atlantic Salmon for dinner. 

We are ready to head home tomorrow. It's been a great trip, but it's good to be going home. 

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